Shaken, Not Stirred

Humorous Essays and Other Stuff

Gerald Andersen

Gerald Andersen
Califon, New Jersey, United States
January 06
"“When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me.” - William Faulkner "I grow old...I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." -T.S. Eliot


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MAY 3, 2012 11:40AM

Lunch with Leo

Rate: 20 Flag




Prompt: Write a story that begins with the line: "Listen carefully," he/she said, "this won't be easy for you to hear"....


Scene: A bench in Central Park, New York City

Cast: Ruth and Leo, an older married couple, eating lunch

   Two homeless young men.

Ruth: Listen carefully, this won’t be easy for you to hear.

Leo (shrugging): So don’t tell me.

Ruth: You really need to hear this, Leo.

Leo: You think I need to hear it. I don’t. I’m not listening. My ears are closed. I have wax. (Waving a spear of dill pickle) I’m out to lunch.

Ruth: You are always out to lunch. I can never have a serious conversation with you.

Leo: Sure, you can . Every Tuesday between one and four I am available for serious conversation. Better book early though.

Ruth: Leo, you know that’s when my bridge group plays.

Leo (shrugging) That’s tough.

Ruth: Three hours a week. You begrudge me a crummy three hours a week to be with my friends?

Leo: Good! Plenty of time for you to tell each other things you don’t want to hear and to leave your poor husbands alone.

Ruth: I think you are losing touch with reality, Leo.

Leo: Your reality. Maybe there are other realities. Maybe there are parallel universes where we are sitting on this bench discussing how to spend a million dollars and not waiting to hear things we don't want to hear.

Ruth: So now you’re a scientist? Watching “Through the Wormhole” doesn’t make you a scientist, Leo.

Leo (shrugging) And watching “Dancing with the Stars” doesn’t make you  Ginger Rogers.

Ruth: Don't try to confuse me, Leo. I think you are saying the same thing I am saying.

Leo: If we are both saying the same thing, we don’t need to talk. We can just eat our sandwiches and say the same thing to each other inside our heads.

Ruth: You never want to hear bad news.

Leo: Wrong, Ruth! I love bad news! I love it when the accountant calls to say my pension is heading for the toilet. I jump with joy when the doctor tells me I have the Alzheimer. It’s like Christmas when I hear my son is divorcing. You’re wrong, Ruth, bad news to me is like manna from heaven, and you, my dear, are the Moses of bad news, a nattering nabob of negativism, a burning bush of calamity!

Ruth: Don't be so dramatic, dear. You don’t have Alzheimer’s. You’re just forgetful.

Leo: I don’t forget the bad stuff, Ruth.

Ruth: And you’re talking too loud. Those people at the next bench are looking over.

(Leo leans forward and looks toward the neighboring bench. He sees two scruffily dressed young men)

Leo: They’re bums! Who cares what they think? They’re bums.

Ruth: Not so loud! Oh dear, now one of them is coming over.

Leo: Oh, great! Now we're going to get mugged. We couldn’t eat in the deli. We had to eat in the park, because you had something to tell me. Have you told me anything? No! You had bad news? Well here's real bad news: we're getting mugged. I hope you’re happy.

(An unshaven young man wobbles over to their bench)

Young man: Hey, mister, can you spare some change.

Leo: Spare change? No, I can’t spare a dime. I need every cent. No point in mugging me, because all I have is this pickle.

(He holds out his sagging spear of dill to the young man who takes it and wanders back to his bench gazing at the pickle in a confused manner.)

Leo: Great! He took my pickle. I have a pastrami sandwich and no pickle. That's great. Great lunch this turned out to be.

Ruth: You offered him your pickle, Leo. You were trying to be smart, as usual. You offered him your pickle because you didn’t think he would take it, but he did. Now you don’t have a pickle. It was a limp pickle anyway.

Leo: Don’t go there, Ruth. I don’t want to hear it!

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Oh, you had me laughing. I liked this a lot.
This is something I used to hear on my business trips to NYC. Very well told.
Wonderfully told - looking forward to "Pickle" the sequel.
LMAO Leo! I mean Mr. Anderson! Rated for the laughter. I hope there is a sequel soon. I miss my parents! LOL - Good job sir - Duke
OY! We had to eat in the park... so wonderful.
LOL Very good! I know the New York chatter between loved ones.
Ha Ha Good one...well done in the classic vaudevillian way.
And I'm left wondering what the news was. This was great!
This is great stuff. I love it that we never get the bad news.

The spirit of the dialogue reminds me of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in "The Gin Game," although that couple was not married. Your dialogue here really is at that same level. In my opinion.
"You’re wrong, Ruth, bad news to me is like manna from heaven, and you, my dear, are the Moses of bad news, a nattering nabob of negativism, a burning bush of calamity!" You got the rhythm and delivery perfect, I can hear Leo's rasping voice rising in volume, then Ruth's dismissive hiss, "Don't be so dramatic, dear."
Excellent post.
Except for the name and a few other changes, I'd say you were writing about the conversations I have with wife. R
good dialogue is soooooooo hard to write well, yet you make it seem effortless. really fun read.
With the last line, I don't even want to guess what the bad news is. Heh, very funny! Your plays are your best work. I like this one as much as the one in the psychiatrist's office. The voices must have been working really well because I heard Leo talking in Gene Kelly's voice, for some reason. Maybe because he said Ruth wasn't Ginger Rogers, I don't know. Anyway, fantastic, funny, and, and, and—need something with an F—
Fun read, I like the intervention of the shaggy man on Leo. Point being it´s never good to tell bad news, there´s enough happening already.
"Watching “Through the Wormhole” doesn’t make you a scientist, Leo."

YES IT DOES!! YES IT DOES!! pfffft!! ~:D
Haha! ...Sadly, I've had conversations like this....never given a pickle away, though....
I laughed out loud! But now though I have to hide my face, yet I can sit quietly tonight. You have spoken for me, Leo. I will just send this link to my wife.
Reading this for the first time in July in your 2 for 1 Deal! Love it. R